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PostSubject: Re: Language discussion   Wed Dec 04, 2013 1:29 pm

Shady Knight wrote:
I think Stabs also had a good point, would a newborn baby making noise trying to mimic what its parents are saying also be understood, or would it be heard as gibberish until the toddler grows older? By the same token, what does the Chlaena language have that written language doesn't? You need to use your eyes to understand what they're "saying" rather than your ears, so you're not so much listening to them as you're reading the changes in their color pattern, which in my opinion, isn't so different from reading words on paper.

I think the general idea of the spell should go like this: "The spell allows sapient creatures like humans understand sound-based languages. Even though another person speak in a different language, you have the strange feeling you hear them talk in your native tongue. It doesn't affect written or sign-based languages, although simple gestures like a wave or a finger over the mouth are typically well understood. The spell isn't perfect, though. Proverbs, idioms and such are often translated literally, and so it's up to you to figure out the meaning behind them."
So where I'm getting at with what your trying to say, Is the in pretty simple terms and which I always thought based on what a heard awhile ago. Is that when you hear someone talk, your hearing it in a Universal language. (Which in our world its English) and you'll be hearing their voice back in a different "accent and dialects"; that can be heavily varied and bit indifferent but at least recognizable when you hear it. As grave point out that's what most people do in the lore of star wars of the ones not sapien or near human are basically hearing The galactic basic standard. (which is like english, who woulda thunk?) and putting their own language into it.

As far as sign goes, I don't see why not the spell should not help out with sign, As i can see "sentient beings" in the a place such as the Evernight forest showing that as a must. Which would be confusing to an explorer such as I for example to find several tens of towns all doing sign and i'd be at a lost, not to mention that I would have to probably learn different variations of that too because everybody like being 'quiet' in that part of Felarya. I'd advise we'd go into that a little more, but i'm honestly good about it either way as long as i get a good enough explanation and comparison (pros/cons) of why we should nor shouldn't implement that in a "communication" spell.

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PostSubject: Re: Language discussion   Wed Dec 04, 2013 2:11 pm

Well, to me, it all boils down to "Why can the spell translate sign languages, but not written languages? Don't you both use your eyes to understand what the person or the piece of paper is 'saying'? What does sign languages have that the spell can translate, that words written on a piece of paper or engraved doesn't?"
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PostSubject: Re: Language discussion   Wed Dec 04, 2013 3:46 pm

Shady Knight wrote:
Otherwise, why can the spell translate the meaning behind physical gestures, but not the meaning behind words written on a piece of paper?
I think there may be a little difference between signs and symbols that we can take advantage of in order to include one and exclude the other.

Let's assume that the spell does not cause the meaning to linger. It pulls it out of your mind... in real time.

When you're done writing, the spell doesn't have a lingering effect to convey the meaning, because the spell itself doesn't read- it pulls the meaning out of your mind, and doesn't store information. When you're gone, the text is just text.

Meanwhile, signs can be understood just as fast as they're made, and thus despite the fact they don't linger, you have to be present to make them. Thus the spell can pull the meaning out of your mind, out of your language areas of the brain, and convey them to your listener. Same goes for chlaenas: they convey the meaning exactly as fast as they speak, so the spell works.

Jaykay birds would be special that way here because they can remember the meanings even if they don't grasp them, and thus, would be able to repeat "NICE ASS!" for foreigners despite the person who said it, and their language skills, are outside the perimeter.

Karbo wrote:
Well the problem with physical gestures in the language goes all the way to many underwater races like Chlaenaes who would communicate through flashing colors for example. What is the limit between what is a language and what is not ? Difficult question.
Personally, I'd rather add a clause that you can only understand something that you know is a language- so if a chlaena was changing colors, until you realize it's trying to say something, you don't get what she's saying. If a mermaid is singing, you'll think it's beautiful, but until you realize there's something to understand, you won't understand anything. Likewise, if no one had ever spoken to these before, they'd need to understand that the throat noises are a form of communication before they received any information from them.

Pheromones or smells... that'd be a bit of an extreme case. I'd lean either way with that one: if we take it to the extreme, then anything that attempts to share information can be a language, and thus we could communicate through (pardon my French) farting if we wanted to. I think the first thing about a language is that it cannot be invented on a whim, and its use must be habitual for the user.

I think that gives the most flexibility to writers who might need the alien modes of communication to be unintelligible.

I'd ask, though- would it be possible to make recordings that took advantage of the spell, or texts that did? I'm thinking of a text that makes those who look at it feel as though someone whispers the text into their ears as they read. Likewise, recordings may need something like that if they are really directed to whomever it may concern.

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PostSubject: Re: Language discussion   Wed Dec 04, 2013 4:33 pm

I personally think that if pheromones or smells are considered extreme, then so are sign languages. Incidentally, why would recordings not work? If we go by the idea that the spell translate the meaning behind words on the spot, which would make idioms and the like useless but that's neither here nor there, and that's why written languages aren't translated, then why doesn't it translate the meaning behind the words when it's played again? The way you explain Jaykay birds, while they do remember the meaning behind the words, if the spell doesn't translate them when they're repeating them, then they somehow repeat the words in a tongue that any and all creature can grasp. I think it's doubly confusing when Karbo said that the spell only affects sapient beings, and Jaykay birds aren't sapient, they're basically parrots, so the spell shouldn't translate what they say either.
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PostSubject: Re: Language discussion   Wed Dec 04, 2013 6:35 pm

Perhaps Jaykay birds are actually sapient, just not smart enougth to engage in full conversation. They have always struck me as trollish birds that had a basic idea of what they were actually saying. They also learn words much quicker than parrots would realisticly do.
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PostSubject: Re: Language discussion   Fri Dec 06, 2013 5:33 pm

But if they're sapient creatures, why are they classified as fauna, which is basically the section for animals? I also think that the depiction of Jaykay birds as trollish birds, like how Asuroth does it, is mostly just for comedy. In fact, their entry states that they use that ability to warn other of dangers and as mating calls during mating seasons.

Da Wiki wrote:
[Jaykay Birds] aren't complex creatures though, so they just use this ability to warn of danger, and in mating calls to see who can transmit the most attractive signal. This is why sometimes you can suddenly hear music in the middle of the jungle in Felarya!
Nothing wrong with the comedy effect, mind you, but just cause it was made popular doesn't mean that's what they actually do when someone writes them in a non-comical situation?

Anyway, since I'm a sucker for simplicity, I still think we're thinking too deep in this thing. I prefer that not too many details be explained as to keep the spell more mystical and powerful. I personally like it if it's just: "You can understand the spoken words of sapient creatures. While, the spell enables you to understand an unknown language, it does not enable you to speak or write it." Basically, a slightly modified Comprehend Languages spell cast on a global scale.

The way Chlaenas are understood, maybe when they flash colors there's a very subtle hypnotic suggestion that imparts the meaning behind specific color shifts? I think it would be a nice nod to the fact that in mythology, creatures like them were depicted as sea witches. In the case of Jaykay Birds, I like the idea that how they can be understood, despite being just parrots, is unknown and it baffles people who attempted to study them. I think it would make that ability more notable, if somehow hijacking the Dryads' spiritual network wasn't impressive enough.

When it comes to recording devices, I'm partial for something like the spheres in Final Fantasy X. I really liked them. Maybe Negavians have some similar magic item, like some sort of orb that record images and audio like a camera, and when played back, it plays back what's recorded in the orb. Or maybe magically project a hologram that plays the recording, that'd be awesome too. I personally don't get why the spell shouldn't work on things that record someone's voice, it just seems like an unnecessary step for no real benefit.
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PostSubject: Re: Language discussion   Sat Dec 07, 2013 9:42 am

On my part, I perfectly understand the thing about intention or meaning being broadcasted via the translation spell to the objective of a communication. Mainly because I have two characters that communicate that way (and this upgrade on the spell may break the wonderful thing about their relationship, but well). I think it's logical, because otherwise the spell should know the translation of every single word/sign in every single language known or to be invented. Isn't it easier to just take the meaning from the speaker and give it to the listener? And with that I don't mean just with spoken languages. Recordings and writings, however, don't have a will of their own, and therefore the spell wouldn't be able to pick a meaning which it can transmit. It might even not recognize such channels as true communications, since they are not two or more creatures exchanging information. At least not directly.

As for what is considered communication and what isn't, I suggest that it is the conscious effort of a creature to transmit something to another creature. Even if it isn't a specific one, like shouting "Hi" to see if anyone hears it. That would be the action that triggers the spell, making it broadcast the meaning to those that make a conscious effort to interpret the media. If you hear words, but don't pay attention to them, you won't get their meaning. If you see an intermittent light, but you don't watch it to 'understand what it says', you won't get the meaning of the Morse message. But that last one would be BECAUSE there's someone making the signs with a light. If you program a machine to make the Morse signs, try as you may, you won't be able to receive a meaning because there's no emitter. The only way around that would be, as Stabs suggested, a magical device that indicates the spell that it wants to transmit a certain meaning. Who knows how that would work, but it would be possible.


Shady Knight wrote:
I personally think that if pheromones or smells are considered extreme, then so are sign languages.
Why? There's a perfectly understandable sign language in real life that allows for complex communication, while we can only unconsciously interpret what pheromones or smells mean unconsciously. Maybe some can detect a few meanings consciously, but that doesn't allow for complex communication. For instance, I know I emit a characteristic smell when I'm nervous, but other people don't notice, and I can't understand the meaning behind other smells I detect. It doesn't even reach the grade of "communication" if you say something to yourself.

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PostSubject: Re: Language discussion   Sat Dec 07, 2013 10:16 am

I'm just saying that if one form of non-verbal communication is considered extreme, but another isn't, then it's inconsistent and you can argue that both should be considered too extreme to be translated or vice versa. I know I'm being a broken record, but I think it's better if how the spell work is kept simple and not all details are explained, cause I personally think this is getting way too complicated for something that amounts to justifying aliens speaking English.
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PostSubject: Re: Language discussion   Sat Dec 07, 2013 12:05 pm

Shady Knight wrote:
I'm just saying that if one form of non-verbal communication is considered extreme, but another isn't, then it's inconsistent
Well, that's what happens when you take an array of forms of communication as big as that. Non-verbal communication encompasses a lot of means of transmitting information that include both sensory and extra-sensory means, such as pheromones and telepathy. I'd rather divide the means of communication as conceptual and non-conceptual, the first including verbal, sign and code languages, and also telepathy, while the second would include colour shifting, voice tone, body language, wave modulation, smells, pheromones, etc.

The translation spell, as it works with meanings, would only work with conceptual communication. Besides, I don't know what's so complicated about taking the meaning from the speaker and giving it to the listener. I think that restricting communication to just words is stupid. What is a word, anyway? What is a word for an Inu or a Neko? Do barks coming from Inus count as words? Even if other races speak, they may not have sounds equivalent to words, but every one of them will have a concept, a meaning that the conveyor wants other people to notice.

Think of it as this; you normally think to yourself, or read to yourself, and those thoughts are like words in your mind; but they're not words, they are concepts. However, in order for you to say them aloud, you have to force yourself to speak. You have to consciously translate the concepts into words and bring them to your mouth in order to pronounce them. That would be the trigger for the translation spell, a trigger that would be fired by every means of communication. Of those, only conceptual communication would have a meaning that the spell would be able to convey. Likewise, you normally hear background sounds, see random lights or watch as people do certain movements. Only by focusing into them, into one sound, one light, one movement, you are able to decipher the meaning of it (provided that you know it's meant to say something). That is how you attune to the meaning broadcast; you hear a sound, see a light, watch a movement, and focus on it, attempting to decipher it; therefore providing the spell with an open mind to gently deposit the meaning into.

Even if we know how that works, that doesn't mean Felaryan people have figured it out yet. Besides, not everything is explained in the spell. How does the spell exactly do to transfer the meaning from one mind to another? What if the speaker is thinking about a wrong meaning? What happens when there's not much magic in the area? Up to you if you want to explain those, but I think we need at least a basic understanding of how the spell works to use it coherently, and also be able to find blind spots, ways to avoid it, ways to take advantage of it, since details like those can be used with interesting results in some stories.

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PostSubject: Re: Language discussion   Sat Dec 07, 2013 12:58 pm

Hmm, what do you think of this explanation? "The spell allows people in Felarya to understand the languages of sapient creatures. You understand spoken words as if you heard them in your own language, and you more easily understand the general idea behind less common forms of communication like complex sign languages. The spell does not enable the ability to read messages written in a language you don't understand, nor the ability to speak or write in such tongues."

The rest, like how Negav sometimes disables the spell in very localized areas to teach new languages, can be added in Negav's entry. I also purposefully left out the bit about recordings or telecommunication, because quite frankly, I don't like that restriction, I think it's just arbitrary. I'm all for magical means of recording logs and communicate at a distance without needing to be a wizard, but I don't think that's a good reason. I think it'd be better if most Negavians don't find something like a radio as reliable, because they can suddenly pick up a lot of static or their range for picking up signal is too short, and of course, can be hijacked by Jaykay Birds at the worst possible time.
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PostSubject: Re: Language discussion   Sat Dec 07, 2013 1:43 pm

For what it's worth, Shady, you've got a point where it concerns simplicity. And it's true that if we have the translation effect just do the meanings instead of bothering with the words, we'd have a problem not just with sound recording but also telecommunications.

You have a point too about the extreme cases- either they're all extreme [with individual exceptions] or none is [with individual exceptions] or else we're going to be discussing this every time someone invents Fartese. But having to disable magic to teach you a new language? I'd rather we simplified it to "it takes a lot of attention and willpower not to rely on the translation effect".

When you put it that way, I think I would agree regarding the jaykay birds: it's funnier if you don't explain the joke. If it were just so that it happens, and if anyone's interested in why then the birds aren't really helping them understand, I would consider myself satisfied.


As for 'too complicated', we could compromise and have the one-paragraph description invoked on Negav's entry, or maybe Felarya's main page, and give it a full article in its own page. I'm all for it being left obscure, though- we can always just think up our own. Might even give individual writers more control.

I'm gonna say this though. There are advantages to complication: it's the cheapest fodder for thoughts you're going to get.

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PostSubject: Re: Language discussion   Sat Dec 07, 2013 4:20 pm

You're right that complication can be a good thing and I should have tried to come up with an explanation that would have hopefully please most people, rather than do basically what I did through most of the discussion and say "No, it shouldn't be that way, it should be this way." I'm sorry if I acted out of line.
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PostSubject: Re: Language discussion   Sun Dec 08, 2013 5:34 am

That's true, I didn't think about telecommunications. I do think the meaning-based translation spell would still work with that, since I don't think the distance matters as long as the receptor doesn't take much time to receive the message, but could be up to interpretation. Another thing that would be lost with the translation spell is slang, which I know adds a lot of flavour to stories.

But, seeing Shady's spell conditions, I think they are good enough. It also allows my characters to retain their special relationship, so I can agree to it. As for teaching languages, I agree with Stabs in that it isn't needed to deactivate magic to teach, but I also think it wouldn't be far too difficult to make that deactivation. Of course, having to use an anti-magic device or hire a magic disruption mage for just one language class would be far too expensive unless you have a whole school dedicated to such education and a lot of classes can take advantage of a single local deactivation. As for how the language learning itself goes, I already mentioned it at my post in the first page of this topic; I think a native teacher would be needed, since that teacher would be able to distinguish when the translation spell is kicking in and point out the error to the student.

One last thing, about complication. As Stabs said, I has its advantages, while keeping it simple as Shady suggested also has its own. What I suggest is leaving it up to the writer/reader. Felarya is a hub, where very different theories of magic coexist and still work even though they might disrupt each other in other worlds. I think we can take advantage of that and say that it adapts to the viewer and works as the mage thinks it works, with the limitations Shady imposed. Say, if a rule-based mage would investigate the spell, he would see that it answers to rule-based principles, while a nature mage would discover a force of nature behind the spell's power, and a positivity mage would find that the spell uses both positivity and negativity when it makes a translation. For a non-mage, it would of course be something mysterious and incredibly powerful.

That way, we can keep it simple and add to the mystery with erudites continually investigating how such a spell can be possible, as the same time we give power to the writers/readers to think about it, develop it and give it the drawbacks they need.

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PostSubject: Re: Language discussion   Thu Jan 09, 2014 9:16 am

Does the translation spell work on audio playback, such as cassette tapes, records, or whatever other recording technology might be used? I'm assuming not, but I'm not entirely certain of it.
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